from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:
(From the Diary of Dr John Watson)
I have to admit to being rather ticked off with Holmes at his lack of response, leaving me to make the journey to Midwich alone. However, as it turned out, my journey was delayed due to Mrs Watson’s ‘trouble’ playing up as I was about to leave the house. My dear wife had to be rushed into hospital with running-away-at-the-mouth syndrome, which has unfortunately plagued her on and off for several years. It’s a rather debilitating condition that seems only to affect the female of our species and manifests itself in a curious manner: the sufferer finds it impossible to limit herself to only three or four words in conversation, and instead employs three or four thousand (the condition has been well documented by the Yorkshire Chanson Jake Thackray).
It was therefore with a mixture of frustration and sympathy that I sat by my wife’s bedside throughout the night until her symptoms abated the following morning (though she was clearly touched that I’d decided to forgo my trip on her behalf). When she began to feel better, I finally trudged my weary way homewards, by which time my companion’s note had arrived, enabling me to meet him at the appointed hour. Nevertheless, Holmes seemed to imagine that I’d simply dropped everything to fit in with his plans, and all attempts to communicate the reality of the situation washed over his silken locks like a dose of cheap shampoo.
Our first evening in Midwich was a relatively quiet one – on arrival at the tiny station, Zellaby met us with open arms and a degree of relief that we had finally arrived. He greeted Holmes like a long lost brother:
“My dear Mr Holmes, how glad I am, mad I am, sad when you’re gone, I’ve been sitting here waiting since twenty to one.”
Apparently old Gordon fancies himself as a poet, but this small fact was lost on Holmes, who simply grasped the fellow’s hand and shook it firmly. Zellaby took us to his own house on the edge of the village and as the pony and trap trundled along, we noticed how passersby turned to look, their eyes filled with tears (although Holmes pointed out that these were not tears but simply water, due to the fact that it was pissing down with rain at the time).
As we approached Zellaby’s house, he cautioned us to take care:
“The children are closing, do not meet their eyes – I have seen some folk crumble (some twice your size!)”
Holmes did not (as I would have imagined) guffaw loudly at this, but instead cast his curious gaze towards two of the blonde creatures as we pulled into Zellaby’s driveway.
“Indeed, they are an interesting brood,” said he. “Mark you, Watson, take the utmost care with these seemingly innocent, child-like beings.”
We passed the rest of the evening in the living room, drinking large quantities of tea and enjoying one of our host’s rather delightful date and toffee sponge cakes (I must get the recipe for Mrs Watson). The only interruption was the occasional shout from Zellaby that another of ‘the children’ was walking past the house, gazing in at us. Each time this happened, we’d jump up and stare out at them (taking care not to make eye contact). I could not help but wonder what was going on in their heads, and if they are as curious about us as we are about them.
(to be continued)